george floyd protests

John Boyega and Keke Palmer Speak Truth to Power During Protests

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As the world marches for racial justice in the wake of the police murder of George Floyd, celebrities are joining the fight—and just like the rest of us, their responses range from the performative to the well-intentioned-but-useless.

But there are some celebrities who are using their fame for good—case in point: Keke Palmer and John Boyega. The Hustlers star took to the streets of Los Angeles for a powerful dialogue with members of the National Guard, while the Star Wars hero gave a rousing speech at Hyde Park in London.

Boyega urged the crowd, “Black men, we need to take care of Black women .. they’re our hearts, they’re our future, we cannot demonize our own. We are the pillars of our family.”

Boyega, with tears in his eyes, continued, “We are a physical representation of our support for George Floyd. We are a physical representation of our support for Sandra Bland. We are a physical representation of our support for Trayvon Martin. We are a physical representation of our support for Stephen Lawrence … I’m speaking to you from my heart. Look, I don’t know if I’m going to have a career after this, but f-ck that.”

He added, “I need you to understand how painful this sh*t is. I need you to understand how painful it is to be reminded every day that your race means nothing and that isn’t the case anymore, that was never the case anymore.”

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, Keke Palmer had a real conversation with members of the National Guard:

Palmer explained to the soldiers that Donald Trump is continually trying to incite a race riot. She urged them to march with the protesters, saying, “March with us. March beside us. Get your people. March beside us. Let the revolution be televised. March beside us and show us that you’re here for us. Let’s just do it. We start marching and you march with us. Make history with us, please.”

The soldiers offered to march to the intersection, but refused to leave their posts. Later, they kneeled to some applause from the crowd, while Palmer remarked, “It’s not enough for me.”

Later, in an Instagram post, Palmer expressed her frustrations and fears saying, “At 26, I’m looking out and witnessing a physical revolt, and it’s a revolt on a scale that I wasn’t sure I’d ever see. To those that may not be looking close enough, all they will see is looting, or people who don’t really care about the movement, or anarchy without a movement. But what I see is a society responding to the oppressor about how the oppressor has responded to us.”

She continued, “Racism is what the country was built on: Slavery, systematic oppression, then voter oppression, female oppression, poor education system so you’re intentionally uninformed, financial oppression, … Human beings can only take so much. American needs government reform that demand legislations and new laws that birth the future for our kids. We deserve a new system because the old one was created to oppress us.”

These powerful, passionate messages are deeply felt and resonate with everyone who hears them. Palmer and Boyega are part of a new generation of stars unafraid to speak out and demand social justice. Hopefully their words will inspire many more famous folks to use their platforms for good.

(via Metro/CNN, image: Nayz100/Periscope/Gadi Schwartz/NBC)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.